Abigail Klein Leichman
February 28, 2023, Updated March 1, 2023

Israeli alternative protein companies ranked second in the world (after the United States) in terms of investments, accounting for approximately 15% of total global investments, and 12% of cultivated meat investment, for 2022.

That’s one main takeaway of the “State of Alternative Proteins” report from the Good Food Institute Israel.

The alternative protein movement addresses the fact that conventional meat, egg and dairy production is unsustainable and inefficient, driving climate change, environmental degradation and antibiotic-resistant disease.

The main categories of alternative proteins are plant-based analogs for meat, eggs and dairy; cultivated meat produced from live animal cells; and fermentation of microorganisms to make animal-free ingredients for protein-rich foods. Israel has significant activities in all these areas.

According to the report, investments in Israeli alternative protein companies have crossed the billion-dollar mark over the last two years, indicating continued investor interest despite the slowdown in the markets.

$454m raised in 2022

Israel has 57 alt-protein startups, 22 of them in seed stage, 12 in development stage, 10 at pilot and scaleup stage and 13 at commercialization and growth stage.

Israel ranks second globally in both fermentation and plant-based investments, with about 18% and 16% of total global investment in the sector, respectively. Overall, alternative proteins make up 60% of food-tech investments in Israel.

Other highlights of the GFI report:

● $454 million was raised by Israeli alt-protein startups in 2022.

● The Israel Innovation Authority gave $12 million in support to alt-protein startups.

● Year-over-year growth of plant-based retail sales in Israel is eight times that of animal products, with plant-based milk accounting for 18% of all milk retail sales.

● 12 new alt-protein startups were established in 2022 — four cultivated, four plant-based, and four fermentation-derived.

● Four companies launched commercially, two in the US. One example is Meat.The End, which introduced a line of plant-based burgers and nuggets at Burger King in Israel.

● Rehovot-based Believer Meats broke ground on the world’s largest cultivated meat facility.

● The Israeli government invested $14 million in a fermentation pilot facility.

● Eight Israeli startups entered partnerships with global brands. One example is Remilk, whose precise fermentation whey (made from cow protein DNA copied into fermented yeast) is being used by General Mills’ Bold Cultr cream cheese.

Israeli alt-protein reaps most investment, second only to US
General Mills’ Bold Cultr cream cheese uses Remilk’s precise fermentation whey made from cow protein DNA copied into fermented yeast. Photo courtesy of Green Queen

Molecular farming

The GFI report spotlighted plant molecular farming — where plants serve as expression platforms for proteins – as a major emerging trend. Four new Israeli companies in this sector are Imagene Foods, Polopo, Pigmentum and BioBetter.

The report also noted the establishment of the world’s first Sustainable Protein Research Center, a joint project of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and GFI Israel; as well as the Hebrew University’s new Innovation Food Tech Center that will work to provide innovative solutions for the growing problem of food security.

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